It’s a heated political discussion in Secondlady’s Parliament of the Extreme. The wise and the fool want to trace the roots of poverty and underdevelopment in this land. These wise men and women pretending as senators and congressmen are now closing in to the eye of the problem. They temporarily abandoned the concept of greed, ignorance, and incompetence in the government so as not to see a couple of horns in their heads.
Gloria, not her excellency, raised the question: ” Is there such a thing as politician’s broken promises?”
But Randy the KSP and pasaway made fun with her question.
“Why did somebody promise you a grand wedding but instead ran away with a gay?”
Laughter followed. I had to intervene.
“This is a serious class discussion, behave or I’ll send you out.”
Emong the OFW son manifested his intention to participate. Permission was granted.
“Ma’am Seg, my classmates I just want to be clarified about a few things in relation to our topic. First, in the use of the word ‘promise.’ What is that being ‘promised’ by the politician? His platform of goverment or the programs/services he intends to do/accomplish during his/his term of office; second how does a politician arrive at his platform of government? Is it with consultation to people around him or he just based it on what he things/knows as best and right for the interest of his country and people; and third, for a politician to pursue his platform of government he has to translate everything into specific programs and services to be implemented. The question is this, are people involved (particularly those in the grassroots) in the identification of these needs, problems, solutions and their aspirations to keep the public official busy during his term of office? If not, nothing worthwhile is expected hence the notion of a broken promise.”
Samantha, the free thinker in the class raised her hand. I acknowledged her.
And she said: “Emong used the term “platform of government.” Is it really a “platform of government” that he is talking or he means a “political/party platform?” To me kasi, the the term platform of government is a more neutral term, it is a collective vision of what a government should be. This is people’s ideal not necessarily be that of a politician and his party.”
“And what’s the point you’re driving at Samantha Samantha?” I asked.
“Whether you are LP, NP, PALAKA, PM, KBL, UNO, etc., when you talk of platform of government your ideals and goals to serve goes beyond the boundaries of your personal/party interest. Everything you do is for the general interest of the majority of your people/constitutents, be they are rich or poor. And this is what Emong is saying as consultative goverment/governance. But I bet, most of these politicians are mouthing only the political platform of their party. It may not necessary address the needs of the majority but of the few. E, sabi pa naman, the government exists for the interest of the majority not of the few.”
Before I could say something somebody called our attention that Gloria’s question is not yet answered.
Joy the pragmatic mind stood up and said: “Kaya nga iyong sinasabi ninyong broken promises is a result of subordinating people’s interests over personal and party’s interest. The politician once elected into office has to attend first to his party’s interest, particularly those who support him during elections rather than those of his general constituents when it comes to implementation of programs and services. Siempre uunahin niya kaagad iyong mga bomoto sa kanya. Ladies and gentlemen this is partisan politics. This is the root of all the evil of governance in this country.”
Laughter and much applause followed.
“Para kang si Brenda niyan,” somebody shouted.
“Hey tumigil ka diyan, if you really know something makipag-participate ka ng maayos.
I saw somebody raising his hand at the corner. It’s Joel the son of a minister and the class’s moralist.
“Okay class let’s hear from Joel. Joel…”
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). The problem with us is that people have impinged their hopes to the politicians with the notion these men and women in the government chosen by the majority of the electorate to serve are fix-all technicians. Governance is a participative process, tell them what you need and discuss how you collectively act on it. Ma’am Seg said once, no public servant is really a servant at all. If I understand her right, sa akin lang, kung gusto ng mga tao ang pagbabago ay kumilos din sila. They too have to participate. She used the term “makialam.”
Somebody butted in. “Kaya nga hindi tayo nagkakaisa masyadong maraming pakialamero diyan. We have an abused system and abused exercise of democracy. The government, politicians and officials at that, are overwhelmed by so many issues and problems of the country. They just don’t know where and how to start. They are at lost how to satisfy everybody. And they just don’t know what else project they do to make money.”
Metring, the working student, also expressed what is in her mind. “First of all I would like to say there is an incongruence of minds– from the government institutions, the politicians, officials, and the people. People are also divided on what they think as the problem of the country. The government institutions plan and propose budget to fulfil their mandates based on their studies and feedback from their own people in the field; and what the politicians understand about programs and services is nothing but personal accomplishments which will have an impact to the electorates later. It may not be the need, it may not be the solution to the need, it’s a kapalpakan. Suma tutal, nagpapapogi lang. For all you know what they claim as accomplishments are failed projects to the people. Perhaps you can even say- to those who failed to see the significance of these projects may consider the same as ‘the broken promises’ of ‘an honest government sana’ kung hindi nila ito pinagkakitaan.”
And now the activist mind stood up and said: “The government is a system of power which reside on the will of the people. But the politicians thwart this ideal once in power. Once elected they think they are now the power themselves not the people. Classic example the Maguindanao case. They are now the government, they are now the laws, they are now in control of everything including the people’s mind. They say to the people, this is your need, and this is what the government can do. And all of these things ay ‘utang na loob ninyo’ sa aming mga politicians.”
Raising his fist he said, “down with all those politicians who act more for the advantage of foreign interest than our national interest. Mga nagpapagamit lang iyan, mga salot na sanhi ng paghihirap ng mga tao. They promised to pursue the welfare and interest of the people but sad to say they preserve instead the interest of their capitalist masters. It’s not on hanging projects and services alone which they have failed in their promises, it is on subordinating the interest of their nation for their personal gain. Example? Ito, Seg este Sec. may dalawang daan ka rito.”
His political statement created much laughters and uproar in the class.
I wish I could have more time with them discussing political issues. This is not a political science course, it’s a class on social problems and development. But we all agree on one thing, a political problem is a social problem, and a social problem is a political problem. Both impair efficient and honest governance. We have graft and corruption in the government because it runs in the system. People are fragmented by their political party affiliations. We perceive that politicians, businessmen, industrialists, and foreign powers have a hand on this. In a highly corrupt and politicized system, all what the people could expect from them politicians are nothing but broken promises. The have a faulty view of their political platform, they neglect people’s interest to give way to their party interests. And when they talk about programs and services, it is not on what the people want but on what they believe is useful and necessary to them.
But as they say it in the neighborhood, puwera de los buenos. Which means while there are corrupt public officials and politicians there are also a few good ones. But their tribe is still need to increase. Until such time we see more of them, we will never be done with politician’s broken promises.
My students do not showcase the best minds in the world. Many of them are struggling to survive in many of their subjects. But there is one strength (a glimpse of hope for tomorrow) I see in them, they are aware of issues and they will never give up on what they believe is right. Yes, right for their country.
Our class is no Senate, although one or two attempted to be a clown in the circus. But these are serious students who still believe, we are not done yet with the Philippines. Yes, may pag-asa pa!